Face Off: Should Hong Kong build a new airport?

Face Off: Should Hong Kong build a new airport?

Each week, our two teenagers will debate a hot topic. This week...

Cedric Li, 16, Sha Tin College

Another airport is vital to the long-term sustainability of Hong Kong’s economic development.

Hong Kong International Airport is one of the busiest in the world. Last year it saw more than 68 million passengers, and it handles more cargo than any other airport on Earth.

But as Hong Kong becomes more developed, the volume of travellers moving to and from the city will definitely increase. Already, the strain on the current airport is evident as flight delays have become very common. A 2015 investigation suggested that total travel times from Hong Kong have increased by at least half an hour compared to those in 1999.

This poses significant problems for the city. First, it limits the number of people who can come here, bringing money that is crucial for driving economic growth.

What’s more, the implications of limited capacity will also affect transport planes, which are a major part of our international trade. Limited capacity will slow down Hong Kong’s economic growth.

A new airport would result in more potential consumers, and also an increase in trading. One could argue that this may increase business within Hong Kong, and therefore boost the city’s income in the long run.

Without another airport, however, Hong Kong’s development will be grounded while other countries take off with increasing investment in the Asia-Pacific region.

As such, a second airport is critical in allowing Hong Kong to remain relevant as a centre for trade and commerce.

Costly but necessary: HKIA plans to develop third runway

Jimin Kang, 18, Chinese International School

Last year, the Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) revealed plans for a “three-runway system” (3RS) that would improve the airport’s capacity to handle future demand. This development comes with the recent opening of the new midfield concourse, which, along with the 3RS, is estimated to increase the number of passenger trips by 50 million before 2030.

If these improvements can handle the increasing demand for air travel, then Hong Kong definitely does not need a new airport.

With HKIA currently ranked as the fourth best airport in the world, a new airport – if there was one – would probably be designed to be on par with, or superior to, what HKIA is now. This would cause huge environmental and financial burdens for the government and Hong Kong citizens. We can only imagine how much environmental damage the construction would cause. If one new runway already faces so much controversy over noise and water pollution, then what would happen with an entirely new airport? There would be chaos.

Besides, on a practical level, it doesn’t look as if Hong Kong has enough money to build a new airport just yet. With HK$141 billion being spent on the third runway and HKIA passengers having to pay an Airport Construction Fee – ranging from HK$70 to HK$180 – to financially support the project, money will be a pressing issue. Then there’s also the HK$83 billion Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge) to consider. Where will all the money come from?

Hong Kong is an ambitious city. But when it comes to huge projects that would be costly and unnecessary, being practical is best.

This article appeared in the Young Post print edition as
Should Hong Kong build a new airport?


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